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7 top tips for teen nutrition

As teenagers navigate a whirlwind of physical, mental, and emotional changes, prioritising good nutrition becomes essential for a smooth and healthy transition.

As children evolve into teenagers, their nutritional requirements shift to accommodate the demands of physical transformations and internal chemistry adjustments. With increased interaction with the outside world, parental control over food choices diminishes, giving way to the influence of peers, adults, and media. A scary thought, right?

National statistics reveal that many teens fall short of meeting essential nutrient levels in their daily diets, posing a challenge to ensure well-rounded meals. Here’s how you can optimise your teen’s diet to fulfill their needs:

1. Supporting growth

During adolescence, rapid skeletal changes demand increased intake of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin D.1 Calcium needs nearly double for teenage boys, while teenage girls also experience an increase.2 Meals should incorporate mineral-rich foods such as meats, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dark green vegetables to support bone health.

2. Balanced nutrition

With increased muscle growth and energy demands, teens require adequate protein, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Well-rounded meals ensure the daily intake of these vital nutrients, crucial for sustained growth and development.

During adolescence, teenagers undergo rapid growth phases, often accompanied by a significant increase in appetite. So it’s no surprise that your teen may seem constantly hungry! Ensuring their energy requirements are met is crucial, as inadequate nutrition could hinder their growth spurts.

3. Addressing moods and emotions

Teen brains undergo significant shifts, impacting emotions, focus, and concentration. This change in emotions can make teenagers more emotional, fearful, aggressive, and even depressive. Menstruation in females can also contribute to changeable moods. Essential nutrients like vitamin B6 and zinc play key roles in hormone production, skin health, and mood balance. Vitamin B6 is found in poultry, fish, beef, pork, potatoes, fruits like bananas and avocados, as well as in nuts, seeds, and fortified cereals.

Introducing foods rich in amino acids like tyrosine (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds) and tryptophan (poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, tofu, soybeans, grains) can further enhance mood and mental stability. Tyrosine, the building block of dopamine, helps neurotransmitters combat stress. Tryptophan, a building block of proteins, helps balance hormones and aids in serotonin (happy hormone) production.

4. Nourishing the brain

Dietary fats are essential for brain function, concentration, mood, learning, and hormone support. Since the brain consists of roughly 60% fat, incorporating dietary fats into teens’ diets is crucial for nourishing the brain. Incorporate healthy fats from sources like oily fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds into your teen’s diet for optimal cognitive health. Check our our new Complete Mushroom Blend for an extra cognitive boost!

5. Managing stress & sleep

School and sports-related stress can affect sleep patterns and energy levels. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers aged 14-17 should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep per night3, but studies show that many teens fall short of this recommendation. UK studies show that 68% of teenagers do not get enough sleep during the school week.4

Stress and sleep have what is called a “reciprocal” cycle. This means that stress can cause poor sleep, and similarly a lack of sleep can cause changes to the stress response.5 Check out Are you trapped in the Sleep-Stress Cycle? for tips on getting a good night sleep! Nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins, and botanicals such as Ashwagandha can support stressed or fatigued teens. Check out One top tip to deal with exam stress and Are you getting enough magnesium?.

6. Menstrual health

Girls require additional iron to replace menstrual blood losses6 and support cognitive development and immunity. Iron-rich foods like meat, beans, spinach, and nuts are essential for teenage girls. These iron sources will contribute to normal cognitive development in teenagers, healthy energy and support immune function.

If your daughter is experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance we recommend reading What to eat to support each phase of your menstrual cycle. It is recommended that teenagers experiencing lethargy have their iron and ferritin levels (stored iron) checked with their GP.

7. Gut health matters

Maintaining a healthy gut is the cornerstone of overall well-being, influencing everything from digestion to immune function and even mental health. The gut microbiome influences mood, skin health (such as acne), and hormone balance too. Your teen’s gut plays a vital role in synthesizing essential vitamins, producing neurotransmitters crucial for mood regulation, and generating anti-inflammatory substances.

Daily consumption of Chuckling Goat Kefir can promote overall health during the teen years and beyond. If your teen is suffering with mild acne we would recommend daily application of our Calm-Down Goats Milk Soap and Calm-Down Kefir Lotion, or our Break Out Goats Milk Soap and Lotion for more severe acne.

By prioritising nutrition, parents can support teenagers through this transformative phase, laying the foundation for a healthy future. For more tips for your family, check out 5 ways to support your family’s well-being: back-to-school season.

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.


Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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